1st Tyneside Scottish August 1944

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1st - 8th August 1944 Demouville

The Battalion remained in the reserve position at Demouville until the morning of the 8th August. During this time we were not in contact with the enemy, and so activity in the Battalion area was confined to enemy mortarings, shelling and aircraft activity – all of which is included in the Intelligence Log in detail.

In spite of the mortaring and shelling we did not incur any casualties during these eight days. This was partly due to the slackening of enemy fire due to our counter-battery activity and to the effectiveness of the overhead protection. The Brigade Commander had also been very firm about minimum movement by day in the position, and therefore men were even more kept underground most of the time.

On the 2nd of August the Battalion took over from 11th DLI the “contact” patrol with the 7th Duke of Wellington’s Regiment of 147 Brigade. We maintained this until the Battalion left the position. This patrol was provided by D Company every night and consisted of one NCO and seven Other Ranks each night, with an Officer on alternate nights. The 7th Duke of Wellington’s provided the Officer on the other nights and a patrol of similar size every night.

As the Division was holding a fairly extended front at this time there was tendency for gaps to appear, and the object of this patrol was to fill the gap between 70 Brigade and 147 Brigade. The patrol was never engaged in any great activity, but did report from time to time movement in front. The patrol, being on 24 hour duty, had to have blankets, supplies and plenty of ammunition reserves and was therefore more in the nature of a small isolated outpost. An interesting feature was the number of communications which the patrol had to maintain – no fewer than three lines and three separate wireless links.

6th/7th August 1944 Demouville

On this night the Division put out nine co-ordinated fighting patrols to obtain identification, but this did not provide any of them. Unfortunately, one of these, which went through our standing patrol, hit an enemy minefield, and casualties were caused.

The standing patrol, in an effort to bring in wounded, lost our own patrol commander, Lt Terry, who was himself wounded by an “S” mine.

A letter from the Brigade Commander at about this time on Operational Discipline was attached to the War Diary for information as Appendix C.

7th August 1944 Demouville

For over a week there had been little activity in the CAEN sector and most of the fighting in the CHERBOURG and BREST peninsulas. On this day there opened the first attack by 1st Canadian Army – of which we were part – in this sector.

23:00 hours. Although not actively engaged in the attack on the FALAISE road positions we saw the very heavy attack by 1000 Halifax and Lancaster aircraft. We were in fact issued with cotton wool plugs for our ears but when the attack came off we found that we were too far away to be deafened by the noise of the exploding 4000lb bombs.

23:50 hours. A stick of six bombs fell between Battalion HQ and S Company HQ. There were no casualties. It is not known whether these were dropped by our own aircraft or by an enemy sneak raider tailing on behind our own bombers.

A feature of our life in this new sector was the trouble which was caused by a minor plague of mosquitoes. These caused everyone a lot of irritation and a number of men were bitten very badly. Mosquito cream was made a general issue and anti-gas ointment no. 5 was found to be a great deterrent also.

8th August 1944 Demouville

03:30 hours. The first Company moved to take over from 1st/4th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at Sannerville 1367.

07:30 hours. Sannerville

By this time Battalion HQ was established in the new location and Companies had also completed the take-over.

9th August 1944 Sannerville

15:30 hours. Brigade sent out an unconfirmed report that area LE PETIT FORT was clear of enemy and asked for a patrol to be sent out to verify this.

16:00 hours. A patrol of Platoon strength was sent out from C Company.

16:36 hours. The patrol reported that LE PETIT FORT was clear of enemy, except for two men seen in a slit trench 75 yards east, and movement was also seen 200 yards to the east, but the patrol was unable to say what it was. Two Sections returned at 20:00 hours leaving one Section as a Standing Patrol and this one was recalled at 21:00 hours.

19:30 hours. Battalion HQ was stonked by mortars but only one casualty was caused.

10th August 1944 Sannerville

During the early morning, the Battalion area was shelled and mortared. This lasted for nearly two hours and one carrier beside Battalion HQ was set on fire, but was dealt with by a party from Battalion HQ under the Intelligence Officer.

11th – 14th August Sannerville

The Battalion remained in the same location having a comparatively quiet time apart from the occasional stonks by the enemy mortars.

12th August 1944 Sannerville

06:00 hours. Regimental Sergeant Major D. Sands was found lying outside a slit trench, having been accidentally shot by Sten. He died shortly afterwards.

A reconnaissance patrol was sent out – the report was attached to the War Diary at Appendix G.

15th August 1944 Sannerville

12:00 hours. A warning order was received for a reconnaissance patrol of fighting strength to go out to LE PETIT FORT as the enemy were suspected to be withdrawing but probably not in this sector.

14:00 hours. Instructions were received from the Brigade Major for Operation DAIMLER.

15:15 hours. Two snipers were sent out to investigate 143665 and reported that there were no signs of any enemy.

17:30 hours. A warning order was received to prepare to move and the Commanding Officer went to Brigade for orders. The Battalion received orders to move over to the right of the Divisional area in the area 1261 and, along with 11th DLI, act as Divisional reserve.

19:30 hours. The first Company moved out – Troop Carrying Vehicles being used to carry marching personnel. The Battalion area was taken over by half a Section of Carriers from 10th DLI. By 24:00 hours the whole Battalion was settled in at its new location.

16th August 1944

12:45 hours. A warning order was received to be prepared to move to the area of LE TORP 1555.

LE TORP was to be the assembly area for the Battalion, from which it was to advance to high ground to the NORTH of Mezidon-Canon.

14:30 hours. The Battalion started to move forward, one Company being carried on S Company vehicles, the remainder being ferried in the Battalion’s three-tonners.

Later, the assembly area was changed to LE MESNIL 1953 and Battalion HQ reached there at 17:30 hours.

A Company pushed on from there towards Mezidon-Canon 2455, meeting no opposition.

An Orders Group was held at which orders for the Battalion were given. Its task was to hold boundaries 251563 – A and D Companies to establish themselves on the EAST side of the River DIVES and B abd C Companies on the WEST side.

19:40 hours. D Company moved position in armoured troop carriers supplied by 49th Division Reconnaissance Unit. They debussed at railway position 235551 and moved through Mezidon-Canon, clearing the town as they went. Very little resistance was met.

At 20:30 hours the Battalion HQ moved up. Advance Battalion HQ moved to 221531 and the Main HQ to MAGNY LA CAMPAGNE 2152.

At 21:20 hours the Battalion HQ again moved up. Advanced Battalion HQ moved to 249561 and Main Battalion HQ to 243556.

By 22:30 hours A and D Companies had established themselves in their positions. A trace of the Battalion area was attached to the War Diary at Appendix I.

During the night and following forenoon enemy mortars were very active and there was never a long period without mortaring of some part of the Battalion area. One of the principal targets for the enemy mortars was the area around Advanced Battalion HQ where the enemy seemed to be using the church tower next to Battalion HQ as an aiming mark. The stretch of road next to this soon became known as “Bomb Alley” and was very dangerous as the bombs, 8.1 cm of French manufacture, were silent in flight and the first warning received was the explosion of the first bomb. A considerable number of casualties were caused.

Ten Prisoners of War from 7th, 9th and 10th Companies of the 858th Grenadier Regiment were brought in during this period.

17th August 1944 Mezidon-Canon

15:00 hours. Two French refugees were brought in who reported that the enemy were withdrawing and from this time onwards mortaring slackened off.

16:00 hours. Advanced Battalion HQ was moved back to 247558.

16:15 hours. As the enemy were withdrawing, A and D Companies started to move forward.

From 17:00 hours onward, there was a stream of French refugees coming in from the German lines and they reported that the enemy had withdrawn to MIRABEL 2657 and that the artillery was at QUIETEVILLE 2658.

17:30 hours. By this time A and D Companies had advanced to 258568 and established themselves there.

17:40 hours. A Company captured two deserters at 2/85808 dressed in civilian clothes.

During this period, the Intelligence Officer was killed and five Officers wounded, six Other Ranks killed and 52 wounded.

18th August 1944 Mezidon-Canon

07:45 hours. A warning order was received to be prepared to move as the Battalion was being withdrawn and the 10th DLI were moving up.

At 09:30 hours the Battalion commenced moving back and by 12:00 hours the Battalion was established around CAUVIGNY 2254-2255.

During the night 18th/19th August there was intermittent shelling of the area by long range guns. There was one casualty.

19th August 1944 CAUVIGNY

07:30 hours. A warning order to be prepared to move was received as the Brigade was to be relieved by 147 Brigade.

12:00 hours. The Battalion commenced moving back to the area of MOULT 1789 – 1860 which was found to be a rest area.

18:00 hours. The Battalion was established in its new location in a pleasant house which had escaped complete demolition.

During the evening a bombshell was dropped as the Battalion was informed that the Brigade was being disbanded to be used as reinforcements for other units. All ranks were informed and a deep gloom descended on the Battalion.

20th August 1944 CAUVIGNY

16:00 hours. Major-General Barker , the General Officer in Command of the Division, addressed all Officers, Warrant Officers and Sergeants and expressed his regrets that the break-up had to take place, especially as the Battalion had done so much good work.

A harbouring party left for the new location at FRESNEY 9249.

21st August 1944 CAUVIGNY

17:00 hours. The Battalion left for its last move.

20:30 hours. The Battalion arrived at FRESNEY 9249 where the disbanding was to take place and Battalion HQ was opened in a deserted farmhouse.

22nd August 1944 FRESNAY

Commander in Chief 21st Army Group, General Montgomery, addressed all Field Officers and 59th Division and 70th Infantry Brigade.

23rd August 1944 FRESNAY

Major J.R. Alexander, Captain L.A.H. Mackenzie and tweleve Other Ranks were posted to 2nd South Wales Borderers.

24th August 1944 FRESNAY

Lt Col D.N. Nicol, Major K.P. Calderwood, Captain R. Dempster, Captain W.G. Brennan, Lieutenant N.G. Wykes, Lieutenant W.J.H. Irwin, Lieutenant J.N.R. Hoare, Lieutenant T. Armstrong, Lieutenant R.D.Lindsay and 164 Other Ranks posted to 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Major D.C. Mirrielees, Captain R.W. Barr, Lieutenant D.R.V. Crockett, Lieutenant J.W. Murray, Lieutenat D.E.Salisbury and 101 Other Ranks posted to 5th Black Watch.

Major W.K. Angus, Captain R.J. Gelston, 2/Lieutenant O. Shanks and 57 Other Ranks posted to 7th Black Watch.

14:00 hours. Major A. Walton took over command of the residue of the Battalion on the departure of Lt Col D.N. Nicol.

23rd – 28th August 1944 FRESNAY

A short course for personnel of the Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment was run under the supervision of Captain K.D. Buchanan and the 3” Mortar Platoon to convert such personnel into mortar numbers for transfer to Infantry.

25th August 1944 FRESNAY

Handing back of Unit Stores and equipment commenced under the supervision of Quartermaster Captain Manson.

On the advice of the Brigade Commander, 70th Infantry Brigade, it is understood that the unit will remain in a state of suspended animation and will not be removed from the Army List.

Major Walton requested the Brigade Commander to do anything he could to ensure that the name of the Battalion be kept alive for reforming at the end of hostilities.

26th-27th August 1944 FRESNAY

Handing back of stores, equipment and transport continued.

28th August 1944 FRESNAY

Brigade Commander 70th Infantry Brigade, Brigadier Cooke-Collis called to say goodbye to Major Walton and the Adjutant before leaving for the UK on indefinite leave.

Mortar Course finished.

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